Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Adventure Time & Regular Show

A few months ago, I stumbled across Adventure Time, an animated series on Cartoon Network.  I only watched a few small bits as I generally am not interested in kids’ cartoons.  Most are incredibly hard to watch due to their (understandably) juvenile nature.  Over time, I started to watch more and more of it.  I was sucked in.  What struck me about the show was how sophisticated much of the writing was.  It was silly, but also heartfelt.  Adventure Time had edge, but never went over that edge.  It reminds me a lot of pre-cancellation Futurama (the fact that John DiMaggio voices the same type of character on both shows probably influences this opinion).

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Adventure Time‘s Jake and Finn

Naturally, I started watching Adventure Time’s sister show, Regular Show.  Though I appreciate the ridiculousness of it, I cannot quite get into the program as I could with Adventure Time.  To be honest, I find many of the side characters of Regular Show to be obnoxiously unlikeable.

In any event, I was taken with these fifteen minute cartoons.  But one thought keeps lingering on my mind: who is the audience for them?  I was shocked to learn there is a huge online following for Adventure Time and Regular Show.   I guess I can understand why – both shows have fascinating settings and, in Adventure Time’s case, a fully realized, lived-in world.  Where these programs aimed at an older audience?  These shows are only one swear word away from being right at home in Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.  What was the decision making process to put them on prime-time for kids and families?  The content of Adventure Time and Regular Show are so “in between” that I do not know what to truly classify them as.

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I guess, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, this is the reason why they are so successful.  They can bridge the game between kid and adult programming.  A parent can sit down with their child and not be embarrassed with what they are watching and get some enjoyment out of it as well.  Additionally, kids can watch something amusing which does not talk down to them.  As a bonus, kids are introduced to themes and concepts absent everywhere else when it comes to children’s programming (such as the lesbian subtext present in an episode of Adventure Time).

I think that is largely the reason why this show has maintained the type of popularity it has.  It can bring families together, in a why.  Much like how Pixar does with their films, Adventure Time and Regular Show are not afraid to bring mature ideas and surrealism to their storylines.

I think other shows shy away from doing that because of the misguided ideas that cartoons which adults can enjoy and with surrealism must include vulgarity, graphic violence, and offensive humor (like most of Adult Swim’s lineup).   These writers are smart enough to realize that you do not need that for adults to enjoy something.  Adventure Time and Regular Show have that crossover popularity which is a key-thing for a kid’s show to have.  I wish more children’s shows were as smartly and maturely written as these two are.

Of course, with the good comes the bad.  Also like My Little Pony, the online fandom can get a bit too over-the-top as people get a little too into it.  I read about people’s love for it, and it makes me wish they could get some perspective over what, let’s face it, a kid’s cartoon at the end of the day.  But if that is the price society has to pay for quality programming for children, then it is totally worth it.

~N

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To the best of my knowledge, a crossover has never happened.

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7 responses to “Adventure Time & Regular Show

  1. CultureCast-Z February 13, 2013 at 6:55 am

    I’m the opposite of you. I absolutely love Regular Show and am a bit more lukewarm on Adventure Time. The Christmas episode of Regular Show was absolutely amazing, by the way!

    • Nick! February 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

      RS is very hit or miss with me. I think the problem I have is that I can’t stand Muscleman at all, and they focus on him so much (at least the episodes I’ve seen).

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  3. danny August 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    the reason their on cartoonetwork is because cartoonetwork is aimed at 7-15 year olds the reason I know this is because I talked to kevin shinick the cerator of MAD on cartoonetwork on twitter and I said is MAD for Teens and he said yes its for 7-15 see that’s the thing its rated TVPG so it can be aimed at Young Teens but regular show when it first started was made for a much older audience it was aimed at 10-18 as said by the cerator in the cartoon making process and in an interview of his office adventure time was made for kids ages 12-15 and adults but somebody said it was for 12-18 but I don’t know if that’s true it could be true because of the mild swears and mating jokes and finn cutting off a monsters head and green blood squirts out of it sym bionic titan was for Young Teens robotomy was made for older Teens secret mountain fort awesome was for Young Teens total drama was aimed at the Young Teens even though they cut a lot of stuff out they still included the words hell uncensored and boobies and a charater drops his pants for a girl to look at a tattoo on his butt like its for Young Teens only because their was a warning after each commercial and 6teen was also only for Young Teens teen titans go and and annoying orange are both aimed at 7-15

  4. danny August 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    and regular show is not a maturely written childrens show I mean yes its for children but its also aimed mostly at Young Teens same with adventure time

  5. danny February 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    regular show is not for little kids its for an older aduience 10-18 and adventure time is aimed at an older aduience 12-18

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